In a significant recognition of the importance of basic science, on December 2, 2021, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2022 the "International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development". This initiative was put forward by the International Science Council, based on a proposal developed by IUPAP (the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics), and supported by many members of ISC. ICIAM is one of the institutions behind the initiative. ICIAM President Ya-xiang Yuan signed a Memo of Understanding to confirm our involvement. President-elect Wil Schilders is ICIAM's representative. The mission and activities of the organization behind IYBSSD can be found at their website, https://www.iybssd2022.org/en/home/ .
The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD2022) will be officially inaugurated with an opening conference 30 June – 1 July 2022 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Events and activities will be organized around the world until 30 June 2023.
The International Science Council announced this support with a press release that can be found at https://council.science/current/press/international-year-of-basic-sciences-proclaimed-un
In their statement, the ISC describes the actions of the United Nations General Assembly:
“We need more basic sciences to achieve Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.” This is the message sent to the world by the United Nations General Assembly on 2 December 2021: Member States approved by consensus the resolution 76/A/L.12 promulgating the year 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development. With this resolution, the United Nations General Assembly ‘invites all [its] Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other global, regional and subregional organizations, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including academia, civil society, inter alia, international and national non-governmental organizations, individuals and the private sector, to observe and raise awareness of the importance of basic sciences for sustainable development, in accordance with national priorities’.
The United Nations General Assembly motivated its decision with ‘the high value for humankind of basic sciences’, and with the fact that ‘enhanced global awareness of, and increased education in, the basic sciences is vital to attain sustainable development and to improve the quality of life for people all over the world’. It also stressed that ‘basic sciences and emerging technologies respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information and increasing the health and well-being of individuals, communities, and societies’. The successes and difficulties of the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic have been for two years a stark reminder of this importance of basic sciences, such as (but not limited to) biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and anthropology.
The vote is the result of the mobilization of the international scientific community, led since 2017 by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), CERN (The European Laboratory for Particle Physics), and 26 other international scientific unions and research organizations from different parts of the world, under the auspices of UNESCO. Over 90 national and international science academies, learned societies, scientific networks, research and education centers are also supporting this initiative. They will organize events and activities all over the planet during this special year, to showcase and improve the links between basic sciences and the 17 SDGs.
The resolution was proposed to the United Nations General Assembly by Honduras, and co-sponsored by 36 other countries. Its vote confirms resolution 40/C 76 adopted unanimously by UNESCO General Conference, 25 November 2019.